In the highlands of Central Mexico we offer a horseback expedition that allows you to enjoy not only beautiful natural landscapes, from semi-desert to oak forests, wetlands, rugged mountains to valleys of cactus, but also ghost towns, Indian chapels and sites of great historical importance. Guanajuato, where we start, is considered to be the geographic centre of the country and surrounded by some of the most representative Mexican sites, such as San Miguel de Allende and Atotonilco, all declared by UNESCO as world heritage sites.
Riders get the chance to encounter the unseen, forgotten Mexico; colonial cities, majestic shrines, traditional Mexican rural communities, whilst always following the old Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the "Silver Route". The route, using the same paths crossed by the Aztec messengers and pre Aztec nomadic tribes, was reborn and expanded with the arrival of the Spanish. We ride in the same places where, hundreds of years ago, conquerors rode laden with gold and silver. They were followed later by the armies of independence in 1810 as well as the revolutionaries, led by Pancho Villa in 1900. This is undoubtedly the best way to discover the hidden treasures of 500 years of history, through ancient trails, haciendas and colonial heritage sites.
Read a personal account of this ride.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from SS of on 21/01/2022
New Year Itinerary
You will be greeted at the Hotel Posada Santa Fe **** or similar located in the heart of Guanajuato’s historic centre. A colonial city with beautiful buildings, Guanajuato contains architectural and environmental elements from both Indian and Hispanic cultures. Protected by its inhabitants and government, it has been a UNESCO heritage site since 1988: the “Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines”. Today it is considered the most beautiful colonial city of Mexico. Upon arrival at the hotel you will have the opportunity to meet the rest of the team and guests, and learn more about the journey ahead with a welcome cocktail. Tonight's welcome dinner is in a nice restaurant in the Garden of the Union, where every night regional music groups like Mariachis, bands or trios delight walkers with rancheras era songs. The dim light of the place evokes the past and creates a magical atmosphere. Accommodation is in Hotel Posada Santa Fe **** or similar.
After breakfast you will be transferred to Rancho Colomitos, a traditional Mexican ranch where the horses are ready and waiting. You will be introduced to your horse before starting the adventure towards Peñafiel through rural communities. When you reach the foothills of the Montecillo mountains the path starts to ascend to the old Cardones hacienda at 2,236m, crossing changing landscapes with elements of semi-desert in the mountains. You will have the opportunity to see the remains of old mines and haciendas from the times of Spanish colonialism before arriving at Peñafiel. The horses will stay here for the night while you are transferred to the hotel and see ‘La Presa de la Olla’, a beautiful old dam. Route: 21 Kilometres. Topography: Flat & Mountainous. Accommodation: Hotel Posada Santa Fe **** or similar.
After breakfast you will return to the horses and set out towards the town of Santa Rosa, located in the heart of the central highlands. At 2,850 meters height, this will be a beautiful day along the old royal road, used during the Spanish colonial times to transport minerals, mainly gold and silver, for 500 years. Today you will pass by old gold and silver mines, as well as the beautiful rural communities of Peñafiel, Monte San Nicolas and Peregrina. The Christ of the Cubilete, which is located on a mountain considered as the geographic centre of Mexico, will watch you along the trail. In the afternoon, you can enjoy a cocktail and tequila tasting at the mountain retreat saloon by the fire place, accompanied by soft Mexican music, to complete the day. In the evening you will enjoy a rich typical Mexican dinner which, for its originality and various flavours, colours, smells and textures, is proudly recognized as a tangible symbol Mexican heritage. Route: 30 Kilometres. Topography: Mountainous. Accommodation: Mountain retreat.
After breakfast at the mountain retreat you will prepare for a day riding in the central highlands. This is the most bio-diverse area of the state with impressive mountains, oak, pine and arbutus forests. You will be surrounded by the sound of birds as you ride through majestic and changing scenery with amazing views. You might spot coyote, racoon and even puma tracks on the path to your overnight stop, El Gallinero hacienda. Route: 37 Kilometres. Topography: Mountainous. Accommodation: Hotel Anber 3*** or similar.
Today you will ride to Dolores Hidalgo, the ‘Cradle of Mexican Independence’, since it's Parish Court witnessed the famous cry for freedom; the initial call to take up arms against the colonial regime and the Spanish crown. It was initiated by the Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, at daybreak, on September 16th, 1810. You will make a brief tour of the historic centre, visiting some of the most emblematic buildings from the war for independence of Mexico. In the evening you can visit the ‘Wine Museum’, a ‘Real Mexican Cantina’ or simply walk around the town and visit the craft stores. Later on everyone will gather in local Mexican restaurant to enjoy a New Year Dinner in the main garden. It is an old house dating back from the eighteenth century and renowned for serving traditional dishes, lit by fireflies flitting through the gardens and the fresh scent of flowers. Route: 12 Kilometres. Topography: Flat. Accommodation: Hotel Anber 3*** or similar
On the first day of the New Year you can enjoy breakfast accompanied by a typical Mexican coffee named “café de la olla” before you continue your journey on horseback to the town of Atotonilco. The route passes through the Cactus Valley and the historic hacienda “La Erre”, an interesting property which played an important role in the war for the independence of Mexico. Enjoy a picnic for lunch on the outskirts of a picturesque town at the old chapel of the Barron community. You then ride until you reach Atotonilco where you will see the imposing walls the eighteenth-century Church, with living shrine, where religious practices are still happening today. This invaluable architectural treasure is known as the Sistine Chapel of Mexico and is composed of a nave, sacristy and over 6 adjoining chapels and several dressing rooms. The place is illustrated with murals and easel paintings, altars and sculptures. This majestic shrine is declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Route: 27 Kilometres. Topography: Flat. Accommodation: Parador del Cortijo & Spa 4**** or similar.
In the morning, after enjoying a pleasant breakfast served by the pool, the adventure continues to San Miguel de Allende. Today, you will be riding along the old roads that were used 200 years ago during the War of Independence and the Mexican Revolution. Going through traditional Mexican landscapes of agave fields (used for making tequila), corn and landscapes that combine semi-desert with wetlands, it will be an authentic and very interesting day. This is definitely a day full of rural life, with a marvellous tranquillity, allowing you to enjoy every step the horse takes until you reach the cosmopolitan San Miguel de Allende, where you say thank you and goodbye to your wonderful horse. Route: 23 Kilometres. Topography: Flat. Accommodation: Hotel Acuarela or similar.
It is time to leave our horse behind and discover by foot, San Miguel de Allende, known for its rich traditions, in which all year long events and festivals play an important role, San Miguel is a town full of magic and mysticism which preserves ancient traditions and which can’t be found anywhere else. It is a place full of culture and art, considered as a stage for different traditions and customs that occur in this magical place.
It is inscribed by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Titled “fortified town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco”, this distinction by UNESCO was awarded because of its cultural and architectural contribution to Mexican Baroque style and its importance in the struggle for Independence of Mexico towards Spain.
The riders will have the opportunity to explore by themselves this historic city founded back in 1542, and that has become a cosmopolitan and attractive destination for tourist’s upper class, from Mexico’s and abroad.
Additional sightseeing can be arranged - please enquire with your sales consultant.
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We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
Sons of the Shaking Earth - Eric Wolf. A wonderfully readable introduction to Mexican history.
The Maya (Ancient Peoples and Places) - Michael D Coe
Aztecs: An Interpretation - Inga Clendinnen. A fascinating, thought-provoking and vividly dramatic look into the heart of Aztec society.
Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans - Alan Riding, is an excellent guide to understanding modern Mexico and its love-hate relationship with the United States.
So Far So God: A Journey to Central America - Patrick Marnham. A vivid account of a trip from California, through Mexico to the badlands of Central America. The title comes from the saying 'Poor Mexico! So far from God, so close to the United States.'
Like Water For Chocolate - Laura Esquivel. This book created a huge interest in things Mexican when it was published in 1989. Set in rural Mexico at the time of the revolution, the novel manages to combine fantasy with recipes.
All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy. A poetic tale of three young latter-day cowboys riding south of the border.
European novelists have long been attracted by Mexico. Graham Greene's 1930s travelogue The Lawless Roads and his great novel The Power and the Glory; Aldous Huxley's Beyond the Mexique Bay and DH Lawrence's burdensome The Plumed Serpent, which is intent on asking all the big questions about Mexican life.
The Mango Orchard: The extraordinary true story of a family lost and found A young Englishman who travelled in Columbia, Guatemala and Mexico, in part to trace the fascinating story of his great grandfather's adventures in Central America a century ago. There is a great twist at the end, which we won't spoil.
Of course a mandatory copy of Lonely Plant Guide is invaluable.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses used on this trail are mainly Quarter horses and Mexican Criollo, they are fit, responsive and willing ranging from 15hh - 16.2hh. The tack utilised on trail is Mexican or Western as standard although 2 English saddles are available on request.
This trail requires a confident rider secure with all three paces. (walk, trot and canter), riders will be covering 25-35km/day over 5-7 hours so a reasonable fitness level is necessary. Depending on the group, gallops in open spaces may be proposed by the guide.
There will be some narrow paths to navigate both descending and climbing. Riders can, if they want, saddle and unsaddle their horse but this is optional and the guide is happy to do this. The minimum age for this ride is 14 years. Riders aged 14-18 must be accompanied by an adult and a signed letter of consent from the parent/guardian must be submitted.
The weight limit for this ride is 242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation on this trail is of a high standard with en-suite rooms and hot water every night. Some of the hotels have spa facilities and/or swimming pools to cool off after a long day in the saddle. The hotels have been chosen specifically for their traditional feel and colonial charm. Meals are based on regional Mexican food and include: beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fruits, vegetables, cereals, rice, milk, coffee, natural fruit juices, purified bottled water. During the horse trail most of the food is prepared by the rural communities we visit, made with fresh ingredients and hygienically prepared. In many cases with pre-hispanic ancestral recipes are used, showcasing some unique flavours and textures.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
At the time of going to print visas are not required for UK passport holders, check www.fco.gov.uk or call on 0207 008 0232/0233 for up to date travel advice.
In Mexico City the UK high commission is at Rio Lerma 71, Col Cuauhtemoc, 06500 Mexico City, Rio Lerma 71,Col Cuauhtémoc ,06500 México City. Tel: (52) (55) 5242 8500 Fax: (52) (55) 5242 8517.
The Mexican Embassy in the U.K is at 16 St George Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 1LX. Tel: 020 7499 8586 Fax: 020 7495 4035 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This ride can be done all time of the year, as specified in the program dates. It depends on the participant’s wishes, as from January to March, cooler weather; April to June is drier and hot, from June to December, more humidity and temperate climate.
January to March: fresh (day: 17 to 23 ° C - night: 8 to 12 ° C), Rain (unlikely).
April to June: hot (Day: 25 to 40 ° C - night: from 23 to 28 ° C), Rain. Rare in June
June to September: average temperature (day: 17 to 25 ° C - night: from 12 to 20 ° C), Rainy season.
Common at the late evening
October to December: Mexican cold! (Day: 17 to 25 ° C - night: 5 to 10 ° C), Rain. Low
At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance.
Although there are no compulsory vaccinations it is recommended you see your local doctor for up to date information. Air pollution in Mexico City is extremely high between November and February. Water must be purified or boiled.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org. You can also check the Department of Healths website at www.dh.gov.uk.
There are no specific health requirements in the area of the ride although do remember sun block - the ride takes place at some altitude and the sun is always stringer the higher you are. Please see your doctor for the most up to date information.
At the time of going to print visas are not required for most European and US/Canadaian citizens but do check with the Mexican embassy before travelling.
110V, 60Hz as in the USA, appliances may require an adaptor before being pugged in as well as an international adapter. Check the voltage inout of the appliance.
Film and camera equipment is widely available in Leon and other towns en route but we advise to take along plenty just in case. Digital camera's can be charged at the hotels overnight with suitable adaptors (US style).
Hat or cap
Handkerchief or bandana (for neck)
Comfortable shoes for after riding
Summer shirts (2)
Long-sleeved shirt (2)
Pants comfortable to ride (2)
Waterproof jacket in case of rain (0.26 cm prec. prom)
Light jacket for warm weather (average temperature / / Day 25 / / night 8th)
Leggings or chaps
Camera and / or video camcorder with sufficient batteries.
• Additional list:
• Valid international passport
• Visas (if necessary)
• Recommended Currency: Mexican Pesos, U.S. Dollars or Euros.
• Personal medication
• Travel diary Guides, etc...
• Medical Card (to be delivered to the guide).
This is a 8 days/7 nights with 6 days riding, available on set dates throughout the year. Other dates are available on request for groups of 4 or more. There is also a special New Year programme available.
2022: Oct 5; Dec 7.
2023: Jan 18; Feb 19; Mar 1; Jul 19; Aug 9; Sept 6; Oct 4; Dec 6.
Other dates on request.
Group size 4-12 This ride can be confirmed for 1-3 riders if the supplement is paid by all participants. This will be refunded if more book on.
New Year Ride: Group Size 6-14. This ride can be confirmed for 1-3 riders if the applicable supplement is paid by all participants. This will be refunded if more book on.
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Sons of the Shaking Earth, by Eric Wolf, is a wonderfully readable introduction to Mexican history. Mexico and The Maya, by Michael D Coe, Aztecs, by Inga Clendinnen, is a fascinating, thought-provoking and vividly dramatic look into the heart of Aztec society. Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans, by Alan Riding, is an excellent guide to understanding modern Mexico and its love-hate relationship with the United States. So Far from God: A Journey to Central America, by Patrick Marnham, is a vivid account of a trip from California, through Mexico to the badlands of Central America. The title comes from the saying 'Poor Mexico! So far from God, so close to the United States.' Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate created a huge interest in things Mexican when it was published in 1989. Set in rural Mexico at the time of the revolution, the novel manages to combine fantasy with recipes. Cormac McCarthy's marvelous All the Pretty Horses is a poetic tale of three young latter-day cowboys riding south of the border. European novelists have long been attracted by Mexico Graham Greene's 1930s travelogue Lawless Roads and his great novel The Power and the Glory; Aldous Huxley's Beyond the Mexique Bay; and DH Lawrence's burdensome The Plumed Serpent, which is intent on asking all the big questions about Mexican life. Of course a mandatory copy of Lonely Planet guide is invaluable. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit
Swimming in the pool, enjoy good Mexican tequila and wine (!), reading, playing cards, listening to Mexican music.
Type of vegetation you can observe: Semi-desertic area, Valles of cactus, oak and madrone, forest, wetlands.
Type of animals you can observe: Cougars, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, foxes, ringtails, Hare, Armadillos, opossums, deer, snakes, pumas and more than 100 bird species.
How can you guaranty to see animals? We cannot guarantee that we´ll see animals in the forest because they get frightened hearing us arriving. But our staff are highly trained in animal observation, which gives us a lot of probability that we´ll see some. In addition, during our expedition we will show several of the tracks that animals leave in their walk, and some traces. To give an idea of richness and biodiversity we have in this region.
Mexico is a vast country. The Sierra Madre and Rocky Mountains run south from the border with the US. The interior consists of an elevated plateau. Northern Mexico is dry and desert-like, while the south is mountainous jungle containing the ruins of ancient Mayan and Aztec city complexes. These indigenous civilizations are credited with many inventions including: building pyramid-temples, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, highly-accurate calendars, fine arts, intensive agriculture, engineering, an abacus calculation, a complex theology, and the wheel. Without any draft animals the wheel was used only as a toy. The only metals they apparently knew how to use were native copper and gold.
The people of Mexico today are a mixture of descendants from Spanish and other immigrants, mainly Europeans, who settled in Mexico from the sixteenth century onwards, and mestizos - mixed European and indigenous ancestry, as well as the many indigenous groups. It is a nation where affluence, poverty, natural splendour and urban blight rub shoulders. It is also one of the worlds most bio-diverse countries with an incredible and colourful array of fauna and fauna.
Mexico is six to eight hours behind GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
The international dialling code is +52.